PRINCETON, N.J. – Beating Mississippi 7-4 in front of 5,159 fans at the Pensacola Civic Center on Saturday, Pensacola won the Brabham Cup, the trophy awarded annually to the regular season point champion in the ECHL. The Ice Pilots are 48-16-5 and have 101 points while Alaska is second in the league and atop the National Conference at 43-18-8 and 94 points. The Ice Pilots will officially receive the Brabham Cup trophy at their final regular season home game on Saturday, April 9.
Pensacola clinches home ice for the 2005 Kelly Cup Playoffs which open on April 12 with the Division Semifinals in the National Conference and the Conference Quarterfinals in the American Conference. The Ice Pilots have qualified for the postseason each of the last four seasons and six of the eight years since the team moved to Pensacola prior to 1996-97. Pensacola advanced to the Kelly Cup Finals in 1998, losing in six games to Hampton Roads.
Pensacola becomes the 15th team in ECHL history to reach 100 points and with two victories in its last three games would become the sixth team in 17 seasons to win 50 games. The Ice Pilots play at Texas on Sunday and at Mississippi on Friday before closing out the regular season at home against Mississippi. The Ice Pilots have set team records for points (101), wins (48), home wins (25), road wins (23), consecutive wins (12) and consecutive home wins (9) while tying the team record for consecutive road wins (6).
Alaska needs to win its final three games to reach the century mark for points. The Aces play at Las Vegas on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The Aces have set team records for points (94), wins (43), road wins (21), consecutive wins (6) and consecutive road wins (5) while tying their marks for home wins (22) and consecutive home wins (4). In its first ECHL season in 2003-04, Alaska swept San Diego in the Pacific Division Semifinals. It was the eighth-largest postseason upset in league history (26 points) as the Aces finished fourth in the division with 82 points while San Diego had won the Brabham Cup with 108 points.
The Brabham Cup is named in recognition of Henry Brabham, who was a founding member of the ECHL and the first owner of the Erie Panthers. A former mayor and businessman who was a major force in professional hockey in Virginia for more than 15 years, Brabham worked tirelessly to establish the ECHL during its early years.